Virgil Van Dijk has admitted that his horror injury suffered in Liverpool's Merseyside derby draw at Everton in 2020 did him "a lot of good" in the long run.
Liverpool supporters will remember just how imperious the Dutchman was in the immediate years after he signed for the club in 2018 - turning a group of top-four challengers into one capable of winning every major honour available at club level.
On the back of winning a first league title in 30 years, the Reds were ready to go again. But they suffered a huge blow in the October of the 2020/21 campaign when Jordan Pickford collided with Van Dijk in that season's Goodison Park derby, causing a cruciate ligament tear that sidelined his opponent for 254 days - or 57 matches, to be exact.
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The Dutchman has since returned with much debate whether he has ever got back to the levels he comfortably reached prior to the injury. What is known, though, is that he has won two cups since and now having been handed the Liverpool captaincy looks somewhat back to his old self again.
Reflecting on what was a difficult time while on international duty, the 32-year-old told de Volksrant: "I never wanted to experience that injury. A knee injury is a mental blow for a footballer. I’m happy to be where I am again, after all the hard work.
"The injury also did me a lot of good, even immediately after the operation. I went abroad with my family for seven weeks. We had the best time of our lives together. I will never forget that it has made me so much stronger mentally.
"I can put things into perspective more easily. It is not that footballRead on liverpoolecho.co.uk